Saturday, 28 July 2012

Is it really sport anymore?

What a fantastic assortment of sports the Olympics is.
Men and women in the peak of physical fitness, pushing themselves beyond the realms of human exertion. Day one and the swimming already creating a frantic and phenomenal atmosphere.
And then we casually hear about Dale Oen, - Norway’s answer to Michael Felps. World champion in his event at age 25, fastest man in Europe, fitter than any other – drops dead from a heart attack.
Shouldn’t we be worried about that? A heart attack – at 25?
At what point do we admit that enough is enough? Will we eventually realise there is only so far a body can be forced – a limit to how much a muscle can be stretched? Because, at the end of the day, the old ticker is just a muscle.
It’s a bit like my favourite sport, Rugby. Massive men working out until they have bodies like dump-trucks and then smashing into each other in bone crunching fashion. How long before one of them gets killed in action?
I suppose what I’m asking here is ‘when does a sport no longer become a sport?
Should people really die just for our entertainment?
It’s a scary thought.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

One of those nights

Bed time came and went – it is so hot that my chosen lay is the sofa on the terrace. I love it here with just a blanket between me and the elements. Generally it is one of the places I sleep most soundly.
Select some music, tonight’s choice - Tubular Bells.
Appropriate really – as it rhymes with BLOODY HELL.
Sleep? Fat chance. Because tonight, the Beatles are in town. And so is GOD.
I’m not sure I have ever seen so many beasties, mainly flying beetles and ear-i-wigs which must have just arrived from some foreign country, just in perfect time to attack me in my makeshift bed. Louis, my brown dog, is so distressed by this he wants to lie beneath me.
All in all, it doesn’t make for a dozy nights sleep.
Then starts the lightening. I need another drink.
A bottle of Tanquery 10 and a few tonics and here we are – for the night.
For 5 days the sun has raged through the day, up to 36 degrees this evening.
Tan all round – bring it on.
Tonight we had a lovely night, dipping in the pool well after dark. You would, wouldn’t you?
W went off to bed a few hours ago – so did I, so to speak. But this is no bed, it’s purgatory for me and my brown friend. With an imminent thunder-storm announcing itself with floods of light, gothic rumbling in the distance puts him on edge. By my feet a toad the size of a lawnmower does nothing to quell his terror.
I change the tune. Led Zepplin – When the Levy Breaks – up goes the volume. Overhead, the lights flash – we’re back in Knebworth 1978. I can handle this.
Thunderstorms here in South West France are spectacular. They always remind me of my brother-in-law Dave – he loved them.
I miss him.
Bless him – I hope he gets sparks where he has gone.
If he were here now I am sure he would approve of Kashmir blasting out, louder than the thunder. Maybe he is?
Not sure what he thinks of this plague of insects though. Jeesus, there’s thousands of them. Enough to make you run inside in Hitchcockesque fashion. Lock the doors and windows, and don’t forget the cellar…
Frank – the Zappa – is hard at work now, frying insects three to the dozen like some maniac chippy on a mission, as his bright blue light lures them in. He’s on overtime tonight – collect your cheque at the end of the week.
Dont think we can stand it here. Beatles in my pants now. Hippy girls with flowers in their hair may have dreamed about that but, rest assured, it’s not what its cracked up to be. Beatles in your crack – stop it.
Gotta run – before the storm’s begun.
Our connection with the outside world will soon be lost again – so you wont know if we have been devoured by killer beetles at our breakfast table. Or mayme the giant toad will get us first?
If I don’t see you through the week, I’ll see you through the window…

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Hang em high

2 years after the event, at last someone in high places has seen some sense and decided to prosecute those scoundrels in the media for their despicable reporting methods. That woman, the one innocently hiding behind those vivacious auburn locks – she has to be guilty, at least of something. Just take a look at her.
And as for Coulson, a bigger liar there can ne’re have been. The fact he has worked for the ‘blokey’ PM makes him guilty at least. And it’s unlikely that DC will get away squeaky clean either. Hang em all, say I
But the irony is, that this time it will be trial by media. The firing squad facing, er, the firing squad.
Poetic isn’t it…..human nature at it's finest.
However, there is the sad part. Now 600 wanabe and has-been celebrities will all come clambering for the limelight to kick-start their own careers again with some front page news.
‘It was me.’
‘They hacked my phone while I was having an intimate clandestine conversation with my secret gay lover.  The fact that I was married with three kids, or a devote catholic has nothing to do with it.’
 ‘So, I was caught with my hand in the pubic till, rifling around for loose change AND I posted my phone number on 20 homosexual websites, just in case the media were completely blind. Just because I’m a public figure doesn’t mean I can’t walk naked on the beach…’
Hmmm, well, actually, it does.
How many of us real people believe that their phone network is secure? I don’t, for certain. I can remember years ago a mate of mine having a scanner and listening in on a variety of interesting village conversation. Lovers out late at night, cooing their secrets and sexual preferences to someone else’s spouse down their mobile phone.
I agree that in this case, the media is as guilty as sin itself, and should swing for their actions. But please, all you on the b-listers, don’t pretend you were not glad of the publicity.
To quote Christine Keeler: ‘Democracy is Hypocrisy without limitation..’

Sunday, 22 July 2012

To kill a mocking-lamb

Was it Churchill who said: ... for god’s sake get off your arse?
Oh no, wait a minute, that was my Dad.
But you know what I mean…there’s always someone telling you something needs doing?
Right now – this very minute….
Today, the sheep are out again. I am awoken from a snooze with this exciting news. I say again, as they have been through the fence everyday this week. Not all of them, just two or three cheeky ones foraging about in the longer grass instead of in the tightly cropped field I had confined them too. Its seems that some animals are above the law.
Like magpie’s.
Or bankers.
Well these few beasts are pushing the boundaries just a little too much, especially now they are knawing on my vegetable garden. The punishment for this is quite severe.
Very severe actually….
Anyone ever see that film The Great Escape – where Paul Newman gets put in the cooler?
How ironic, then, that the same fate awaits these escapees.
BBQ anyone?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

What a load of Sherman Tank

My name is Ed and I’m just a kid
So many rhymes that I cant get rid
I made a song about a pound of squid
It only cost me a couple a quid

But it was tasty
When I wrapped it in pastry
And cooked at gas 3
In my kitchen in Aintree
With my girlfriend called Daisy
Who was really quite lazy
But it didn’t phase me
Or even amaze me
Coz she was from Paisley
And featured on page 3

I have bad hair but it makes me good
And had a hit when I never should,
A pint of beer, half a dozen drams
Then caught a bus and a couple of trams

But I got to a studio
Cos I’m so cool, you know
Sound just like a real pro
Although I just left school though
Already making real dough
Met the Prince and his bro
Gonna buy a crossbow
Which rhymes with Moscow
This song’s turning to tosh now
Who care’s, I got cash now….

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Are we still in Kansas?

Are we still in Kansas?
One minute we’re happily sipping G’n’T by the pool, next were off to see the Wizard.
7 trees down in 30 minutes, that has to be a record that even the worthiest lumberjacks would have been proud of. Mainly poplars though, which are fair game to most hurricanes, especially the nameless one that picked on us last week-end.
I don’t see the point in poplar trees. They make poor firewood and have spindly dangerous trunks, especially when a 30 metre one comes crashing down across our power-lines and plunges the house into darkness. Perfect timing too, as it coincides with the moment the roof starts pouring grubby rain-water all over the furniture – and me. God knows how a torrent got into the bedroom, but it wet the bed faster than a four-year-old in cheap Pampers. I ended up spending the night sharing the driest part of the house, the outside terrace, with the mozzies.
And here’s another thing…why do torches always have flat batteries? It’s true, isn’t it? No matter how many packs of Exide Double Lithium you throw in your shopping trolley each month, when you need the emergency torch it’s dimmer than Katie Price. I know we bought some batteries last month, but they got ‘put away’. Wendy does the ‘putting away’. I’m not privy to what goes where. It’s a need-to-know basis only.
Well, I want to know, now! So I can put a bucket under this leak – and see if the fallen tree has mashed the Audi. Aha, here’s a pack, in the linen cupboard. Except they don’t fit – anything!
AA, Single B, Triple X, Double D-cup. All sorts - except the right ones.
Next day, we spent 3 hours trying to phone EDF’s emergency service to warn them that we now had a firework-tree sizzling by the side of the road, if anyone would like to come and watch it on Bastille day. Only 380 volts - 3 phase, mind you, not your 5000v high-power stuff that would fry the entire village I admit, but still enough to kill your average passer-by in a horrible way were they to touch any of its glowing leaves.
Eventually we get through and my illiterate French manages to purvey the danger of our situation.
Mon Dieu. But it’s Sunday.
France doesn’t do Sunday in the same way that it doesn’t really do Monday or Boxing day, or Wednesday afternoon, come to think. That’s OK, I’ll just call you and leave a message every time I smell another smouldering neighbour, then, shall I?
To be fair, within an hour, two blokes arrived, glad of the double-time and to get away from the missus for a while. For 3 hours they toiled at their task of getting us back on.
While I am waiting, I go about my jobs for the day, including picking the nectarines which are just about ripe. I love nectarines.
Except the damn tree has gone.
I find it eventually, in the middle of the sheep field, minus its fruit. The sheep look happy about that, and at least they didn’t blow away. But now there is no power to the electric fence that contains them and the vegetable garden is an easy target, looming on their ever-hungry radar. I don’t have a gun, so I wave a menacing stick at them all in threat and then retreat to defend my potatoes… which look like someone attacked them with an AK-47! Their poor leaves have more holes that than a Tory manifesto, having been punctured by the giant hailstones that accompanied the rain and malicious wind. Not just the spuds, either, the entire garden has been laid flat and demolished – it’s like a scene from Independence Day. My new seedling spinach, which was just poking through the ground, is now off somewhere towards the River Lot.
Head in hands, I reside myself to the fact that at least we might get some electricity back on by mid-afternoon and the Wimbledon final. Well, yes, we got the electric, but the satellite dish has gone south too, along with the internet and most of my t-shirts from the washing line.
Didn’t miss much though, did we? Just another Scottish loss…
Ooo, ouch. Sorry, I would claim Andy Murray as British, were he not such a dour and miserable figure with a frown like a hangman. And the tears…oh those tears of emotion when he lost? Can you empathise? I don’t think I’ve cried like that since I came last in the egg and spoon race at the Knowle School - and that was only because I ran for home as I wanted the egg for my tea – and then discovered that it was made of china. When I found out, I threw it in the bushes. It’s probably still there.

When we bought Chauffour, it already had a swimming pool.
Ra, ra, ra. Sounds so cool doesn’t it? A big hole in the ground that you can cool down in? Maybe do some daily exercise?
Cool? Yes, it’s cool alright – enough to shrivel walnuts, most of the time.
Pain-in-the-Rrr’s, more like. Because now it’s got a hole in it. Basically, when you really need it - in the middle of summer for example - it goes wrong. A bit like that torch I needed last week. However, as it is just a concrete hole in the ground, the water is escaping through a puncture in the liner, with nowhere else to go. Why bother? What’s the point in escaping to nowhere?
Now it just sits there, on the wrong side of the liner like what-ever his name was tunnelling out from Colditz only to find he is still inside the outer-perimeter fence. Or like living in London, outside the M25. Pointless.
Bit by bit, the inside is getting smaller as more and more water is living on the outside of it like some sort of fugitive – think The Matrix. Should I cut another hole, to let it back in again, I wonder? Would that work? I can’t be sure. I do have an O’level in physics but the mice in our attic will have eaten all the text books long ago. And I doubt Colonel Peter Jones will still be alive to ask. And I can’t google it without the internet.
So I called someone professional – and he wanted three million quid to pump the water from the outside back inside. Then he would mend the hole – if he could find it.
I could do that. Well part of it, anyway. So I did. Ingeniously, I slid a pipe down the back of the plastic and pumped gallons of illegal water out from where it shouldn’t be so that the pool was a normal oblong shape again. I was almost there too, until a great tear arrived in the middle and now the whole thing is as useless as a chocolate kettle.
Grrr. I am considering filling it full of salmon and then daily catching them for lunch – with a harpoon gun. Far more fun - and tasty too. Except I suspect that Spike, our mastermind cat, would beat me to it.
The whole thing gives me a headache – and I can’t find the Anadin because Wendy has ‘put it away’.
Drugs in France are so expensive. You can’t buy day-to-day stuff like ibuprofen or anti-histamine in a supermarket. No, it all has to come from a pharmacy at over-inflated prices. No wonder they keep building new ones. At least a dozen sparkling new Pharmacies have sprung up in the last 5 years around here. When they knocked down our local filling station, up went a pharmacy – likewise with the charming Victorian hotel in Miramont-de-Guyenne. Each one has a palatial entrance, 5 counters and a dozen staff, just to serve a village with the population of your average English primary school. A trip to the local doctor, regardless of your ailment, will send you home with a shopping list in double figures for blood-pressure tablets, skin cream, eye-ointment and cures for a hundred other complaints that you never knew you had. And off you go to the pharmacy with a three-hundred euro bill.
As a result, we tend to buy unbranded drugs in UK, because they only cost a few pence. Except that we can’t do that anymore. Health and Safety now dictates that we are not allowed to buy more than one pack of paracetamol in Tesco at one time, in case we might be feeling a bit depressed. Oh, yeah, that’s really going to work isn’t it? The fact that I can’t buy a pack of 100 Nurofen for 70p  actually makes me even more depressed. As I trawl the High Street buying one pack of 8 in every store, including the grubbier ones like Superdrug and Aldi, my reasonable mood deteriorates into that of a suicidal/homicidal maniac. Thankfully, if the mood takes me, we have now discovered that I can order 6000 on the internet for the cost of a cup of tea – if the damn internet was working, that is.